Amazon Best Sellers Rank: A Thorough Guide

This is a blog post where we share a thorough guide on Amazon Best Seller Rank and where we outline how it can be leveraged notably through using DataHawk's Amazon BSR data.

Amazon is one of the biggest online marketplaces in the world, and if you plan on successfully selling there as a merchant, you need to get familiar with its deepest secrets. The more you know about Amazon's platform and its various safeguarded algorithms, the better; and there is a paramount indicator and metric you ought to master leveraging the Amazon Best Seller Rank (BSR) data.

Watch our quick overview of Amazon Best Seller Rank and how you can leverage DataHawk to power up your sales:

1. What is Amazon Best Seller Rank or BSR?

In short, Amazon Best Seller Rank shows that a certain product is selling better than others in that category by Amazon sales ranking how it fares against similar items. A number 1 Amazon best seller rank on an item means that the product has been sold more than any other within the category within a specific period, and reflects how Amazon thinks the product will be selling in the future.

Best Seller Rank on Amazon

A product’s Amazon Best Seller Rank can be seen on the product’s page in the details section, and it is shown according to its category. Top-level categories, subcategories, and sub-subcategories are important for Amazon, and they can give different Amazon sales rankings based on what category you’re trying to compete in.

The Amazon Best Seller Rank gives both buyers and sellers an idea of how popular a particular item is within the Amazon platform. All sellers want their Amazon BSR to be as low as possible, but what will that actually do to you and to your sales, Amazon sales ranking, and profit? We’re here to try and answer some of the most important questions regarding the BSR.

This knowledge is particularly helpful if you are a data-driven person who’d like to optimize each and every aspect of your Amazon business– and if you’d like to see how your competitors are doing. While the BSR won’t reveal much, it will give you enough information to see if your prices or marketing need to be adjusted. This information could be crucial when it comes to a new product launch, or when you are trying to reposition already existing products.

Indeed, the Amazon best seller rank data can be used as a guiding system, telling you when you and your products are heading in a good direction. Most of the info gathered there could be used to improve your marketing efforts over time, which can lead to an increase in sales- but how you use that data is up to you, BSR guarantees nothing.

With DataHawk's Amazon selling tools, you can track Amazon sales rank that looks at up to 4 different categories or browse nodes, and presents data in both a chart and a grid - which is tremendously helpful to monitor a product's performance as shown below.

DataHawk Amazon BSR table and chart

2. What are some specificities of Amazon Best Seller Rank?

What we know about Amazon Best Seller Rank is that it is updated hourly for products that are selling well. Items with BSR lower than 10.000 (meaning they are in the top-selling 10.000 items in that category) are updated hourly, and products with BSR higher than that are probably updated less frequently – probably once a day. This is done only to decrease the computing power required to calculate the Amazon sales ranking for every item in the marketplace, as the ranking is more likely to change for more popular items than those that aren’t so sought after.

The most important thing that is considered for Amazon Best Seller Rank is the number of sales and the more recent they are, the better. Once those numbers are aggregated they are compared to other products in that category.

Reviews, no matter how important they are to the visitors and potential buyers, do not impact the BSR or the ratings of the item itself. It is a common misconception to think that reviews and ratings are also considered when calculating BSR – the opposite is true. While reviews and ratings are good for actual search engines such as Google and might help with a product’s position there, they won’t influence the BSR itself.

For example, a dormant item with a lot of sales from a year ago will quickly be replaced with a new item that has (less but still) more sales in the last few hours or days. This algorithm is designed to try and predict how well an item will be sold in the future – and it is more likely for a new item to go viral, than an old one.

As highlighted in the picture below fetched from DataHawk and displaying the top #4 items of the Clothing, Shoes & Jewelry department as ranked by their Amazon Best Seller Rank, you can see how the "Daily Ritual Women's Jersey Short-Sleeve V-Neck T-Shirt Dress" dress, despite having 24 reviews solely, is ranking ahead of the "Amazon Essentials Men's Regular-Fit Quick-Dry Golf Polo Shirt" t-shirt that has over 1,000 reviews. In all likelihood, the sales velocity of the aforementioned dress has been higher than that of the t-shirt most recently.

Amazon BSR Tool

Another thing to have in mind is that different Amazon marketplaces will have different BSR, so and can show different Amazon Sales rankings for the same products.

3. The Top Facts About Amazon Best Seller Rank Depends On

  • Amazon Best Seller Rank By Category: Your category impacts your BSR because the Best Seller Rank on Amazon is a comparative metric. The number of products in a category or a subcategory and the search intent influences the Amazon Best Seller Ranking for a product.
  • Amazon Best Seller Rank By Sub Category: It is more challenging to earn a top spot in the category Best Sellers list, due to the number of products, it's easier to rank in sub-categories. These lists are more specific, which can help you top the charts, especially if you sell a product that exactly matches the sub-category.
  • Sales Frequency: It's a factor that impacts your BSR, it is therefore very important to maintain the frequency of your sales in order to maintain steady growth in BSR.
  • Sales History: Amazon looks at your product's sales history. To get a good Amazon Sales Rank you must be making reasonable sales. If your product has great listings and is unique in the category or subcategory you are selling in, it still needs to be making sales consistently. Therefore, before launching a product, it is always a good idea to have a set strategy for marketing and selling the product. 
  • Seasonality: A lot of products can be seen as having sudden spikes in their BSR, these could be seasonal products too. You could therefore come across a product with seasonal spikes in sales that start in a season, for instance, a swimwear product before spring break and warmer spring/summer months. These sales will plop in the autumn or winter months. 
  • A number of orders are more important than the number of units sold: Keep in mind that an order of multiple units is given the same weight as an order of a single unit when it comes to calculating the Amazon Best Saller Rank. 

4. How is Amazon's Best Seller Rank calculated?

The algorithm hidden behind exact calculations of the BSR was never revealed by Amazon, the same way Google never revealed how it ranks websites. All we have are rough guesses and estimations, some better than others, but still, an approximation of how Amazon Best Seller Rank works will only give you a deeper insight into this platform.

With that being said, the major purpose of the Amazon Best Seller Ranking is to benchmark products that are in the same category based on their sales velocity.

With enough data, we have a good insight into how the Amazon BSR works and how different factors influence Amazon product ranking.

  • New items on Amazon will receive their rank only after the first payment has been processed, after two to three hours. This rank will be low at first (technically, since the rank of 1 is the best possible solution, the higher rank is worse) and as the sales happen, the algorithm will kick in and calculate the possible Amazon Best Seller Rank and based on the performance in the next few days and overall behavior in that category it can further improve or not.
  • Reviews, no matter how important they are to the visitors and potential buyers, do not impact the Amazon BSR or the ratings of the item itself. It is a common misconception to think that reviews and ratings are also considered when calculating Amazon BSR – the opposite is true. While reviews and ratings are good for actual search engines such as Google and might help with a product’s position there, they won’t influence the Amazon BSR itself.
  • The increased sale won’t necessarily improve your Amazon sales ranking – the algorithm will compare an item to other products in the same category, and if all products equally increase in sales, your rankings won’t go up. So, to get a better Amazon sales ranking, your item needs to perform better relative to all others in the same category.
  • When it comes to Amazon BSR algorithm, it is designed to better rank items that have a slow, but steady increase in sales, than those that have a lot of sales on their first day, only for them to drop suddenly the next.
  • Even though we are using the word sales constantly, a product will be competing even with free items in the same category. This is most noticeable in the Books category, where free Kindle books will compete, and often have better BSR even though they weren’t paid. This is a good strategy to initially boost your Amazon BSR or to offer your book for free for a limited time, and then sell it.
  • When it comes to products with variations, some have collective BSR and some have different BSR for each variation of the product (color for example).
  • Amazon BSR can plummet or increase a lot only after a single sale, as the algorithm tries to predict how the users will interact with it.
  • If an item is expected to sell in large quantities, such as a Blu-ray of a recent blockbuster, or a novel of an already established author, the item will have an initial boost in BSR. This is a part of a predictive feature that we’ve mentioned.
  • Amazon bestseller rank is calculated by order, so 1 order of 20 units and 1 order of 1 unit of a certain product will have the same influence on the overall BSR.

This all leads to the conclusion that an Amazon BSR is only the rating given by Amazon as a way of predicting how popular currently an item is. Some might call it a vanity rating, but we like to see it as an important reflection of the performance of a product, and a proxy to how much it's selling.

You can also check the estimated sales of any product by quickly tracking it on DataHawk.

5. What is more important to focus on if you want to increase your Amazon sales?

  • SEO of the item page is more important as it will allow it better to rank on SERPs outside and lead people who are actively looking for your item. Good optimization for the desired keyword will also help your rank well within Amazon search pages, so make sure to do proper Amazon keyword research on relevant keywords you want to rank for.
  • The number and the quality of reviews a product has. Reviews are the most important factor the potential customers are looking at and use them to make the purchase decision. Good customer satisfaction will increase your search ranking and lead to more sales in the end, without having anything to do with Amazon BSR.
  • Knowing your performance metrics. These will not only help you have a buy box on your products page but will also give you an insight into your seller’s account health, and what you can do to increase your standing. These metrics will be based on the Order Defect Rate (ODR), Cancellation Rate, Late Shipment Rate, Valid tracking Rate, On-Time Delivery, Return Dissatisfaction Rate, and Customer Service Dissatisfaction Rate.
  • Your financial target – BSR will not put profit into your pocket and will not determine whether you will stay in business or not, so having your financial reporting on Amazon up to date, and adjusting prices accordingly, will help you more overall.

6. So, is Amazon Best Seller Rank really that important to you?

Knowing the most about how Amazon works is essential if you want to create a successful merchant account there and turn a profit. The Amazon Best Seller Rank is a big part of that system, which can help you with the careful optimization of your items. Knowing where to invest the time will also lead to you making a more informed decision and not wasting time on unimportant aspects.

It's good to use Amazon BSR as a way of benchmarking how your products are doing against the competition – and will help you with estimating how many sales they are making.

Amazon bestseller rank is mostly used by people who do not pay a lot of attention to reviews and are guided by the current Amazon BSR ranking to show how good an item is – so it can have a real influence on your sales, but in the end, high-quality reviews, and good feedback will influence your customers more.

In combination with your own marketing effort, you need to create the best possible scenario where you would sell the most items over a period, sustainably creating a good ROI for you. With constant adjustments of pricing and a good analysis of sales history, you will be able to optimize every aspect of your Amazon experience.

Don’t let your Amazon bestseller rank rule your marketing efforts

While they can offer a nice insight into how things are going, do not give them too much credit. A high Amazon sales ranking will not mean that your product is a failure while having even the number one Amazon sales ranking won’t make you millions. They change all the time, and it is not good to get hang up on them and focus all your efforts there.

Instead, have a bigger picture in mind, and spend your time and money there, and you will have a success story to share in no time.

DataHawk's Amazon Best Seller Rank Tracker

If you are interested in more data-driven analysis, DataHawk offers an extremely user-friendly tool that includes an Amazon best seller rank tracker and an Amazon BSR Browser which will help you with key market insights, keyword analysis, and the overall insight into your current selling price, competition, and ratings.

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